Earn/Save Money

20 Old School Tips: Money Saving Advice From Grandma

I just celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Canada – it’s Columbus Day to you Yankees, and one of my favorite things to do is get the scoop on what’s up from my Nana. She’s 85 and went through times of war when you really needed to make due with what you had. When you shared your neighbors phone, made your own clothes and had to go without all of the luxuries. These frugal ways stayed with my grandparents right up to today, where they still reuse paper towels and are sure to scrape every last ounce of butter out of that container so nothing gets thrown away. Figured I would gain some simple money saving advice from grandma so that I can share them with you (just in case you don’t have a Nana like mine or yours is crazy or something).


1. To make hamburger meat go further, mix in a few handfuls of crushed cereal or bread crumbs to beef it up and save money.

2. Don’t be scared to buy frozen fish. Fish that’s flash frozen is the same quality as fresh fish, but usually always less expensive.

3. Don’t always believe the expiration date of eggs. Throw it in a cup of water – if it sinks, it’s still good. If it floats, throw it out.

4. Want to keep cheese from drying out? Spread butter on the cut edges so that moisture can’t escape. (mmm butter and cheese)

5. Line the bottom of your refrigerators veggie drawer with paper towels. They absorb the excess moisture that can make veggies spoil.


6. You don’t need so many different cleaning products! Pick all-purpose and multi-purpose cleaners, and save specialty cleaners for tough jobs or surfaces like leather and carpet.

7. Windshield washer fluid is less than half the price of Windex. Buy it in bulk when it’s on sale and just refill your old containers.

8. We all seem to forget this one, but use rags instead of paper towels! They work better, are cheaper, and produce less waste.

9. Newspaper actually cleans better than paper towels – cheaper and leaves no residue.

10. Don’t throw away lost mismatched socks – throw them on your hand and use them to dust and clean the house.

Around the house

11. Close off unused rooms to lower your heating and cooling costs. Shut their heating vents and put rolled towels along the crack between the door and the floor to prevent drafts.

12. If you have an older water heater, wrap it in insulation to save a bunch on your water bill.

13. Reduce the temperature on your water heater to about 120F. You don’t need to pay to have it scalding hot anyway!

14. Install a low-flow shower head to save water (this one would be hard for me. I’m big on water pressure).

15. Run full loads of clothes and dishes. Most of a dishwashers energy is used to heat a set amount of water, so running smaller loads wastes both energy and water.


16. Diluting shampoo by as much as half keeps it effective but gets you double the use. (I would probably do 1/3)

17. To revive dried out mascara, remove the brush cap, put it in a mug upright with a damp napkin on top and put it on high in the microwave for 10 seconds.

18. Use Vaseline as a makeup remover, lip moisturizer, balm for dry skin, and cuticle oil. Baking soda is another miracle staple with tons of beauty uses – see all of them here.

19. Use cinnamon oil to plum up your lips instead of expensive products. It’s much cheaper and your pout will have a nice spicy scent.

20. Use bar soap. Old school, but just as effective in getting you clean – lasts longer and is much cheaper!

saving advice grandma



  1. Adding a few eye drops to mascara can really extend the life too! Love all the tips!

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  3. I’ve done away with shampoo altogether. I wash hair and massage scalp with a handful of baking soda and condition with 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar and 2 drops essential lemon oil in a cup of water. I learned this from my mother. This is cheap, cheap, cheap and doesn’t strip natural oils. My husband thinks my hair looks better than ever.

    As I learned from my grandmother, a little white distilled vinegar in water also makes a great and inexpensive all purpose cleaner.

    • One of my friends who has gorgeous hair just told me that she started doing the same thing!! Baking soda only – and although she says she doesn’t get quite as much volume, she loves how her hair looks and feels. Thanks again for sharing these amazing tips Nancy!

  4. It’s “make do,” as in recycle or reuse something so that you can make it do more.

  5. Love these! Your Nana is lovely and is one sharp cookie!

    Check out the Oxygenics low-flow shower heads (they’re popular with RV’ers, I understand, since they conserve water and have such great pressure). I, personally, bought the “PowerMassage┬« Handheld Shower Head.” Love it.

  6. Brilliant, Nana! I love this… I feel like they’re all so much smarter than we’re going to be when we’re their age due to the way society is right now. Unless we’re about to go in another dark era here and have to figure it out (knock on wood!).

    • Ya it’s a shame that that’s what it takes to learn how to live a simple and more modest lifestyle. It would be nice if we could figure it out before things like that happen.

  7. It all makes sense and seems fun to try. I am off to line the bottom of my fridge veggie containers with paper towels – have been thinking how to deal with the moisture for ages.

  8. I love the windshield wiper fluid idea! I’m definitely going to do that. Thanks!

  9. Great tips! Lots that I hadn’t thought of, gotta pass along this useful information to the next generation!

  10. Ashley, I love these. Your grandmother knows whats up!

  11. Great tips!! We clean our windows with a mixture of water, rubbing alcohol and water, and they seriously sparkle. :-)

  12. I mean water, rubbing alcohol and VINEGAR. :-)

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  17. In two words-QUIT SMOKING! I was a pack and a halfer a day,,,,just from the money I’m saving off that,,,I am banking another $300-$350 a month,,,take the money you would spend, put it in a plastic or glass jar, and put it up in a cupboard somewhere,,,,it’s really motivating to watch it pile up, then, at the end of the year, I can take the three or four thousand I’ve saved, bank some of it, have some fun with the rest!

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